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This poem is taken from PN Review 151, Volume 29 Number 5, May - June 2003.

Ink Pellet: The Competition Results

In September 2002, Ink Pellet, the arts magazine for teachers in secondary schools, launched its second poetry competition. We ran our first competition two years ago, asking for teachers to submit their students' work and were over-whelmed by the response. Poetry arrived by the sackload and judging proved to be an interesting, if sometimes difficult, task. But the rewards were some excellent poetry and proof that talented school students have talented teachers.

Everyone knows that teachers are multi-skilled, multi-taskers. We knew that many of them would have the talent for their own creative writing but would they have time to enter a poetry competition themselves? We had no idea. Michael Schmidt kindly agreed that he would judge the competition if we went ahead with it. So we did - and worried. Would anyone respond? Oh yes they would we discovered! And by the time our closing date arrived we had over 80 poems for Michael to consider.

All the poems were sent to Michael in anonymity and
when judging was complete, he reported back telling us that there was a substantial number of highly competent sonnets and a couple of excellent ones (one among the winners); there was a splendid spoof of Larkin, using Auden's `Musée des Beaux Arts' as a template; other parodies and satires; a convincing imitation of Carol Ann Duffy; and in general quite vivid formal invention and candour. Three poems were chosen as our main winners with a further seven poems selected for special commendation. Interestingly, the ten poems came from seven poets. There are some very talented teachers out there - and some very lucky students.


First Prize

Proofs of the Curvature of the Earth

If I take the A12 south
inch round London on the M25
glide over the river at Dartford into Kent
and spin all the way down the M20
past the 40 mile scar of railway workings
to Dover to the stark beach
beside the Western Docks
the wind like steel needles in my face
behind me the crescent of flats a concrete wall
cutting off the view of Shakespeare Cliff the castle
the little row of terraced houses off the Folkestone road
...


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